In a bid to curb the practice of adulteration of food and give more teeth to agencies, the Maharashtra government will amend the anti-adulteration law sections to prescribe life imprisonment for the violators, state FDA Minister Girish Bapat said here Wednesday.
The minister said President Ramnath Kovind has recently given his assent to amendments made by other states to their respective laws prescribing life term for the violators.
"The Maharashtra government will bring amendments to sections 272 to 276 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 1969 to provide life imprisonment for the accused," he told reporters.
The minister said the state government intends to strengthen the Act on the lines of the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Slumlords, Bootleggers, Drug-Offenders and Dangerous Persons Act, 1981.
Commenting upon the recent Supreme Court verdict on the applicability of section 328 (Causing hurt by means of poison, etc., with intent to commit an offence) of the IPC for violators of Gutkha ban, he said the state government had moved the apex court challenging the high court judgement in the matter.
"With the apex court clearing the way for the applicability of the section, the offence will now become non-bailable," he said.
Commenting upon the delay in a conviction under the said section, Bapat said the government intends to try these cases in fast track courts so that at least in some cases accused are sent to jail. He added that between 2012 to 2019 gutkha worth Rs 171 crore was seized and 3,727 FIRs were filed in 4,600 cases.
Responding to a query, Bapat said the vigilance squads of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) department are kept on alert ahead of Diwali festival to check import of adulterated khawa, mawa, milk, edible oils and sweets from neighbouring states. He said the FDA department has seized adulterated stocks of a special sweet imported from Gujarat.
"Keeping in mind the festive season, the government has decided to release channa dal, udad dal to be distributed through Fair Price Shops. People can buy 2 Kgs of these dals on ration cards at the rate of Rs 35 and Rs 44 per Kg respectively," he said.
"The government, keeping in line with the Center's Swasth Bharat mission has decided to distribute 1 Kg iodized salt packets through the Public Distribution System (PDS)," Bapat said.
(With inputs from agencies.)